Fuck off, Owen Glenn. My vote is not for sale.

Update – 6 Sept 2011: Owen Glenn now says that he will make the donation no matter who wins the election.

Businessman Owen Glenn says he plans to donate a $100 million to youth and education in New Zealand, but it comes with one condition.

He’ll only donate it if we have a National / Act government after the election this year.

Well, fuck off, Owen Glenn. My vote is not for sale. This investment should be worth making no matter which of our centrist parties is in power after the election. What other tags is the donation going to come with? Will you tell universities which courses they should be teaching? Are you going to demand that schools teach Atlas Shrugged as a set text? Will you refuse to fund drama and music courses, because they aren’t a product that can be sold?

I suppose we’ll have to wait to see what Glenn says about the nature of his investment come October, but given this nasty attempt to influence the electorate, I think we would have to be very worried about what other political ideas he wants to push, through the medium of our education system. I was never going to vote National anyway, let alone Act, but even so, this has made me even more convinced that I will be voting for a left party this time round.

Check the story and especially the video. The relevant conversation starts around 18.30 minutes. Sean Plunkett questions Owen Glenn about what he intends to do with his wealth. Glenn says he’ll be making some big announcements in October. Plunkett presses him a little, and then Glenn says that he plans to invest at least $100 million in education in New Zealand. I’ve prepared a transcript. I am not trained in transcription, but this transcript is as accurate as I can make it.

Transcript from 18 minutes, 49 seconds. The money quote is right at the end, around 20 minutes, 10 seconds.

Plunket: What do you do with that money?

Glenn: I’m coming back in October and I’m going to hold a press conference, and I’m going to announce some pretty major initiatives.

Plunket: Is that money going to be spent here?

Glenn: In New Zealand

Plunket: For New Zealand?

Glenn: Mainly for New Zealand youth. I’m going to put money where my mouth is. Then I’m happy to answer any question you ask me.

Plunket: So.. ah…

Glenn: (Laughs)

Plunket: Well, let’s explore it. I’m not going to ask you to shoot your bolt right here and now…

Glenn: It’s not ready…

Plunket: So we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars invested in New Zealand youth…

Glenn: Let’s say at least a hundred.

Plunket: Okay, and it doesn’t matter who the government is…

Glenn: The trouble is you can throw half a billion at it and it will all be misspent. You’ve got to take it step by step.

Plunket: Okay. So this is gonna make..

Glenn: From all the way back in primary school upwards through the ah graduate system and further, let’s take our products and services overseas and do it properly.

Plunket: Does it matter as to who is the gov… who wins the election as to whether or not you proceed with that plan?

Glenn: I think very much so.

Plunket: So you would… so you would think about not doing this initiative if …

Glenn: Well, look, let’s put it in perspective. I think National has a better shot at it, particularly if A.C.T. (sic) are part of it. Because if I say A.C.T. goes a little bit hard on the right, if that is tempered there, they’re not bad people, they’re actually very good people…Labour…

Plunket: Owen Glenn, I quickly want to ask you again, you’re prepared to invest hundreds of millions in New Zealand education …

Glenn: I’d say at least a hundred.

Plunket: … and young people. At least a hundred million if National and Act win the next election? (At 20.09)

Glenn: That’s correct. (At 20.10/11)

Plunket: I thank you very much indeed for your time, and I certainly will be watching that space.

Glenn: Let’s have another chat.

(They shake hands.)

You’re welcome to copy this transcript if you wish, and use it on your own blogs, but I would appreciate an acknowledgement.

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6 comments on “Fuck off, Owen Glenn. My vote is not for sale.

  1. Kathmandu says:

    I don’t have background knowledge of New Zealand politics, and I can’t watch the video. But based on your transcript, that is not actually an offer to donate $100 million to education, and it sounds really creepy.
    From your transcript, what he said was
    * $100 million, to be spent –not donated to anyone else’s organization, but spent in ways he controls–
    * in New Zealand, and “mainly for New Zealand youth,” but not specified as for education
    * and the idea is to “Let’s take our products and services overseas and do it properly”. Which would be a funny thing to say about education, but reminds me of businessmen talking about going overseas to avoid regulation. Especially those pesky regulations about minimum wage, slave labor, and not dumping poisons.
    * and “it matters very much” which party is in charge, because “I think National has a better shot at it”. Which sounds less like “I’ll bribe you all to vote my way” and more like he knows that’s the only political party that would let him get away with whatever it is.

    I wonder how the ‘money to be spent in New Zealand’ part connects with the ‘let’s take our products and services overseas’ part. But if he is talking about a real plan, not just blowing smoke, then I am curious and disturbed.

  2. WittyKnitter says:

    Very odd…. what on earth does he mean? I’m with Kathmandu – I don’t follow him. “Services and products” – is he talking about education? – which is neither. Doe he mean that the system needs to be better so that NZ can improve its export potential? Fair enough, but why does he think he knows how to do this?

    I really don’t get why people think they know about education. Sure we’ve all been to school. But I’ve stayed in a few hospitals and attended doctors’ surgeries all my life, but I don’t make myself out as a health expert. I’ve stayed in a few hotels, but I wouldn’t put myself up as a hospitality expert. Education is a body of knowledge, and it belongs to everyone, not just to those who have money to throw at it.

    Weird. I’d never heard of this man before I read this blog post. He seems to be a huge international businessman, and good luck to him. But that doesn’t give him to right to talk about the best way to educate people.

  3. Pretty skilful there how Plunkett zooms in on the headline material.

    Of course everyone’s entitled to do with their own money as they see fit, and no-one wants to give away their money only to see it wasted. It’s even arguable that Labour spends money badly (and many would argue the same things about National, that’s politics after all) But announcing a philanthropic gesture in this way is just dumb.

    My guess is Glenn is much more experienced in making money than giving it away. He doesn’t seem to do it very well.

  4. Carol says:

    Owen Glenn appears to have changed his mind now. Presumably it finally dawned on him just how bad the interview above sounded …
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10749644

  5. Carol says:

    I was interested to note that even though he claims that his donation is no strings attached he still promotes a National/ACT government.
    How anyone could think that anything involving ACT could be a good thing is completely beyond me. They are vile beyond words.

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